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Google Maps user asks ‘what is China hiding in Tibet’ over censored area

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Reddit users have been debating why a patch of Tibet was hidden on Google Maps and questioning what, if anything the Chinese government were trying to hide.

The coordinates 30.846054 and 81.668028 are clear today, however in an image Reddit user aloner-pro discovered a year ago, the area was censored out by a large grey box that stuck out against the rest of the countryside.

Naturally, this led people on the internet to ponder whether it was due to a Google Maps glitch or "something really fishy".

The area in question is mountainous countryside near the town of Muba in the southern Tibetan province of Ngari.

"Root of the world" Tibet is an autonomous region governed by China, and so users have been discussing what the Communist country was trying to keep a secret from the rest of the world.

One Reddit user asked: "Labor camps? But those are usually in Xinjiang."

Another joked: "Nothing to see here."

A third user also joked: "I just looked up the coordinates and it looks normal like the rest of the land. I could’ve been moved somewhere else by the Russians."

But not everyone was as cynical or as sceptical as these three.

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Another Reddit user wrote: "nah, just google sucking at quality control of the images they upload sometimes to maps/earth."

The coordinates are not the only area in the Dali Lama's homeland that have been censored by Google Maps.

The village of Guwacun, also in Southern Tibet, was at one point censored as well reports the ABC, although these coordinates are also clear today too.

An Australian academic says we shouldn't necessarily blame Google for hiding particular areas on the map.

Speaking to the ABC, Amy Griffin, a senior lecturer in geospatial science at RMIT University's School of Science said: "Google itself probably doesn't care about what sites you can see, it's relationships with other entities that drives what's taken down."

Governments usually make requests because there is "some kind of facility" which they haven't disguised on the ground but don't want to make public knowledge she said, adding: "With the number of satellites around, it's reasonably hard to hide things compared to how things used to be."

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  • Google Maps
  • China

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